TV news and opinion from across the web,
curated by Norman Weiss.

    • Earlier news - posted 2 days ago Fox renews 9-1-1 and The Resident after last-minute negotiations
      Source: Deadline

      The fate of the hit dramas, which were each renewed for Season 6, were up in the air as of this morning, hours before Fox's upfront presentation. But Fox completed negotiations shortly before its upfront at 4 p.m. ET. 9-1-1 is Fox's highest-rated non-sports show, while The Resident ranks No. 5. According to Deadline's Nellie Andreeva, "from what I’ve heard, the two sides were not that far apart by Sunday night, and both made concessions in order for Fox to have its highest-rated scripted series 9-1-1 and fellow formidable drama The Resident in their upfront lineup. It was a likely case of Fox focusing its attention on the tough decisions involving bubble shows, and the ones that were no-brainers ended up taking longer in the final stretch. Renewal negotiations are more complicated now that Fox and 9-1-1 and The Resident studio 20th Television are no longer part of the same company following the studio’s acquisition by Disney." 

      # TOPICS: 9-1-1

    • Fox's "One Fox" upfronts presentation featured "strange bedfellows" Susan Sarandon and Sean Hannity
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      For the first time, Fox's upfront presentation included the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Media, Fox Sports and ad-supported streamer Tubi. That resulted in staunch liberal and Monarch star Sarandon being part of the same presentation as staunch conservative Hannity. "All things considered, Fox News’ integration to the group upfront could have been a lot more awkward," says The Hollywood Reporter's Mikey O'Connell. "(Fox News CEO Suzanne) Scott focused on breaking news coverage, praising the network’s reporting on the ongoing war in Ukraine and the news desk’s decisive calls during the 2020 presidential election. The talking heads from the opinion shows played a minor role, save ascendant Greg Gutfeld. Firebrand Tucker Carlson went completely ignored, and Sean Hannity’s face only graced the theater’s four screens for a split second."

      # TOPICS: fox

    • Doctor Who casts Heartstopper's Yasmin Finney as the new Rose
      Source: Entertainment Weekly

      The 18-year-old Finney will co-star with Ncuti Gatwa when assumes the Doctor role on Doctor Who next year. As showrunner Russell T Davies points out, her character will have the same name as Billie Piper's Doctor Who sidekick character. "Life on Doctor Who gets brighter and wilder, how can there be another Rose?" said Davies in a statement. "You'll find out in 2023, but it's an absolute joy to welcome Yasmin to the Doctor Who set. We all fell in love with her in Heartstopper, one of those shows which changes the world — and now Yasmin can change the Whoniverse!"

      # TOPICS: yasmin finney

    • Jon Cryer is in talks to star in an NBC sitcom pilot from Mike O'Malley
      Source: Variety

      The former Two and a Half Men star is poised to return to the world of multicamera sitcoms in a comedy created by O'Malley. "In the untiled series, after an amicable divorce, Jim (Cryer) and Julia decide to continue to raise their kids at the family home while taking turns on who gets to stay with them," per Variety. "Navigating the waters of divorce and child-sharing gets more complicated for Jim when the owner of his favorite sports team enters the picture and wins Julia’s heart."

      # TOPICS: jon cryer

    • New Bridgerton boss on why Season 3 is straying from the book order: “I really feel like it’s Colin and Penelope’s time"
      Source: Variety

      Jess Brownell, who succeeds Chris Van Dusen as showrunner for Season 3 explained the change to Variety: “I really feel like it’s Colin and Penelope’s time," says Bromnell. "Because we’ve been watching both of these actors on our screens since Season 1, we’ve already invested in them a little bit. We know who they are as people,” she says. “I feel like, especially in the last season, there are these moments of tension between them where it’s like, Colin walks up to the line of almost realizing that Penelope has feelings for him but doesn’t quite get there. Instead of treading water on that dynamic, we wanted to push it into their season. It really felt like the perfect moment to tee it up.” Bromnell adds: "Well, we already differ from the books a little bit because we’re an ensemble show. The books really focus on one on one romantic pair at a time and maybe the siblings have a little cameo here and there but they don’t have full stories. In that way, even though we’re reversing the order of the books, I think all the people you would expect to see — Benedict, who is book three, he will be a vital part of Season 3."

      # TOPICS: brigerton

    • The Wonder Years boss speaks out for the first time since Fred Savage's firing: "We just have to focus on moving forward"
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      Showrunner Saladin K. Patterson addressed Savage's firing as director and executive producer 10 days ago on Sunday night at a Academy Museum of Motion Pictures For Your Consideration event. “It was very difficult,” Patterson told The Hollywood Reporter. “But it’s something where we just have to focus on moving forward. As heartbreaking as that was, we are focusing on the fact that the show is bigger than any one person, me included, cast included, and focus on continuing to put out into the world the love and positivity from the show that we’ve been doing since day one.”

      # TOPICS: wonder years

    • At upfronts, Seth Meyers mocks NBC and Peacock for their overreliance on spinoffs and reboots
      Source: Deadline

      The Late Night host took aim at Will Smith, the Golden Globes and his own network's addiction to spinoffs and reboots during NBC's upfronts presentation. “I don’t need to tell you that the last two years have been transformative not just for the TV business but across all industries – we needed to be inventive, agile, forward-facing, and yet and this is still how we are doing upfronts,” he said. “That’s not to say that NBC is not embracing the future — this next year promises exciting new shows and ideas like Law & Order, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Night Court and Quantum Leap.” Like Jimmy Fallon, Meyers also roasted Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. “We are joined today by the talented cast of Peacock’s Bel-Air, a gritty dramatic reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," he said. “We were also treated this year to a gritty drama reimagining of Will Smith." ALSO: This Is Us stars were apparently too busy to take a final bow at the upfronts.

      # TOPICS: seth meyers

    • Simu Liu clarifies his criticism of Moon Knight's use of Mandarin: "I think that it’s easy to allocate the blame to Marvel as a whole"
      Source: Indiewire

      Liu tells GQ UK "I didn’t want to make it into a big political thing" while discussing his tweet about the Disney+ Marvel series' garbled use of Mandarin. “I think there’s maybe a misconception that Marvel is this kind of monolithic, all-powerful single organism with infinite resources,” said Liu. “I think that it’s easy to allocate the blame to Marvel as a whole. If you really break it down, there was a translator that probably shouldn’t have been a translator. There were probably a couple of people in the decision-making process that should have raised a flag that didn’t.”

      # TOPICS: simu liu

    • SNL criticized for making light of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial
      Source: BuzzFeed News

      Some on Twitter felt that Saturday Night Live was being insensitive with last week's cold open when the trial focuses on serious topics such as allegations of sexual and domestic abuse. Others argued that making light of abuse will only discourage people in abusive situations from speaking out.

      # TOPICS: johnny depp

    • Little Richard is getting the CNN documentary treatment
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      CNN Films and HBO Max have ordered Little Richard: I Am Everything, which will document the extraordinary life and times of the flamboyant rock 'n' roll trailblazer, who died at age 87 in May 2020.

      # TOPICS: little richard

    • Daria spinoff Jodie is now a movie starring Tracee Ellis Ross, Pamela Adlon, William Jackson Harper, Dermot Mulroney and Kal Penn
      Source: Variety

      Originally picked up to series by Comedy Central in June 2020, Jodie will instead be released as a film with Ross continuing to voice the title character Jodie, Daria’s friend from high school. It's unclear which network or platform Jodie will launch at. Also joining the cast are Dulcé Sloan, Heléne Yorke, Cole Escola, Alex Moffat and Zosia Mamet.

      # TOPICS: jodie

    • Nat Geo's unscripted slate includes Dance the World with Derek Hough, Central Park birdwatcher Christian Cooper's Extraordinary Birder and Kristen Kish's Restaurants at the End of the World
      Source: Deadline

      Derek Hough's new docuseries will take viewers on a global cultural journey of the origins of some of the most popular dance styles. Christian Cooper, who made headlines for being wrongly targeted in the 2020 Central Park birdwatching incident, will host his own birdwatching series for Nat Geo. Kish will visit the world's most remote restaurants in Restaurants at the End of the World. Science Fair: The Series delves into the agony and ecstasy of the beloved and brainy teenage subculture of competitive science. Farming Is Life follows farming expert and influencer Indy Srinath, aka Indy Officinalis, as she encounters aspiring farmers hoping to make their dreams a reality. And The Untitled Jeff Jenkins Project will follow travel blogger and influencer Jeff Jenkins as he spends a week completing an epic adventure he never thought he could do and would scare most people.

      # TOPICS: nat geo

    • Teller of Penn & Teller won't reprise his Big Bang Theory role when he guest-stars on Young Sheldon
      Source: TVLine

      Thursday's episode will feature Penn & Teller playing dermatological duo Acne and Pus. Teller previously played Amy Farrah Fowler’s dad Larry on The Big Bang Theory.

      # TOPICS: teller

    • Super Bowl-winning NFL head coach Sean Payton joins Fox Sports
      Source: NBC Sports

      The newly retired New Orleans Saints head coach will work in studio with Fox throughout the 2022 NFL season, reports ProFootballTalk.

      # TOPICS: sean payton

    • Michael K. Williams' nephew recalls discovering his uncle after accidental fatal fentanyl overdose
      Source: People

      In an interview on Red Table Talk, Dominic Dupont recounted finding the late The Wire star on Labor Day. Dupont recalled opening the door to an unusually silent apartment. "I immediately called 911," he said. When he was told to try chess confessions, Dupont recalled saying: "I'm telling you, he's deceased. He's gone."

      # TOPICS: michael k. williams

    • TCM partners with The Met for fashion-focused Follow the Thread docuseries
      Source: Entertainment Weekly

      Premiering on June 4 on Turner Classic Movies and June 17 on HBO Max, the Alicia Malone-hosted Follow the Thread will explore the synergies between fashion and film inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's new exhibition, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion."

      # TOPICS: tcm

    • Top Chef leads Critics Choice Real TV Awards nominations
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      The Bravo reality show earned five nominations, including best competition series, best culinary show and best ensemble cast in an unscripted series.

      # TOPICS: top chef

    • Maggie Peterson, who recurred as Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show, dies at 81
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      Peterson appeared on six episodes of the hit sitcom between 1963 and 1968 as a member of the musically inclined hillbilly family The Darlings. She reprised her role in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry.

      # TOPICS: andy griffith show

    • Watch Jeff Bridges in action as an ex-CIA operative in FX's The Old Man trailer
      Source: YouTube

      The Oscar-winning actor, who plays a a former CIA operative who has spent decades living off the grid in hiding from his former agency,stars with John Lithgow and Amy Brenneman in The Old Man, premiering June 16.

      # TOPICS: old man

    • Earlier news - posted 4 days ago Hacks shows what it's like to live a life completely devoted to working
      Source: Vox

      The Season 2 road trip that the HBO Max comedy embarks on "makes Deborah’s interior struggles real," says Alex Abad-Santos. But it also shows what life is like for somebody for whom working is all that matters. "The way Deborah interprets the world around her — its ills, its tragedy, its happiness — is through comedy, a notoriously fickle artform," says Abad-Santos. "If Deborah’s life flashed before her eyes, it would consist of standup, her late-night show, her missed opportunities, her Vegas residency. The montage wouldn’t include her husband, her child, her sister’s betrayal, or her husband’s death. To Deborah, nothing really matters if it isn’t related to comedy. Hacks works this season because you slowly realize that this road trip is a total gamble for Deborah. There is no backup plan. Who she is, the way she needs the world to see her, her understanding of joy and pain — it’s all on the line. This comedy tour is a matter of her own survival. But is that all too ghoulish, too narcissistic to admit?"
      ALSO:

      • Would Hannah Einbender be starring on Hacks if she wasn't the daughter of SNL legend Laraine Newman?: Einbender, who barely had any acting credits before landing her Emmy-nominated Hacks role, can't escape what Vulture calls the "Hannah Horvath dilemma.": "If we eliminated nepotism in Hollywood, we wouldn’t have Hollywood," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "But I think particularly for creative fields, it’s not like, This is my terrible nephew, let’s stick him in the mail room. Particularly when somebody has to actually stand on a stage and make people laugh — there’s an immediacy to the response to whether or not they’re succeeding. You’re probably pretty good because you have a nepotistic relationship with this thing you grew up around. That you’ve had a lot more exposure to. Is that not fair? Of course it isn’t fair, but it doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job. It just means you had a lot more opportunities to get good at it. That plus the ability to have access to like, What kinda moves do I need to make?"
      • Hacks' return offers a "satiating fuel for joy-parched souls": "I have come to learn that few images spark more joy than that of Jean Smart in a leopard print glamour kaftan swanning through the Nevada desert," says Kevin Fallon. "Hacks premiered last year like a ray of light piercing through storm clouds. The world feels pretty terrible right now. It felt pretty terrible then, too! What’s more fun than years of static misery? What a time to be alive! But if things don’t seem to have really changed, other than the specifics of what exactly is making the act of existence so particularly crushing at any given moment, at least this hasn’t changed either. If the simple pleasures we get, the fleeting distractions that uplift, are fun things to watch on TV, then Hacks is still the serotonin blast, the satiating fuel for joy-parched souls, that it was."
      • Hacks and I Love That for You explore the intergenerational bonds between women at the fringes of the entertainment industry: "Together, the two shows explore what these women provide for their audience, and what they’ve trained that audience to expect from them," says Alison Herman. "Like her real-life inspiration Joan Rivers, Deborah is a tireless worker, taking every gig and endorsement deal she can. One of those many hustles is a show on QVC, a job she’s less passionate about than Jackie, but she still gives her all. Both Hacks and I Love That for You are acutely aware of home shopping as the ugly stepchild of mainstream retail and television alike. It’s a status the shows exploit for comic effect, but also thematic resonance. Neither Jackie nor Deborah is taken seriously by some of their peers. They gain a following by catering to a demographic that feels similarly unseen."

      # TOPICS: Hacks, HBO Max, I Love That For You, Hannah Einbinder, Jean Smart, Laraine Newman

    • Max Thieriot will pull double duty on CBS next season starring on SEAL Team and Fire Country
      Source: Deadline

      Thieriot is the star, co-creator and executive producer of CBS' new inmate firefighter drama. But those busy jobs won't keep him from leaving SEAL Team. According to Deadline's Nellie Andreeva, "Thieriot has closed a deal for Season 6 of SEAL Team, which is slated to begin production soon. After wrapping the military drama, Thieriot is expected to segue to Fire Country as it starts filming its first season. The one-year arrangement applies to the upcoming sixth season of SEAL Team; it is unclear yet what will happen beyond that with him and the rest of the cast whose contracts are up then. The new SEAL Team deal eliminates the uncertainty, which prompted the Season 5 finale to end in a cliffhanger for Thieriot’s character Clay Spense."

      # TOPICS: Max Thieriot, Fire Country, SEAL Team

    • Dynasty was among the lowest-rated scripted shows, but its continued renewal was an example of the "free lunch" that The CW is ending with ten cancelations
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      "To understand what’s happening now at The CW, it’s best to look back to why the network was launched in the first place," explains The Hollywood Reporter's Lesley Goldberg of The CW axing more series (10) than it renewed (eight). "Warners and CBS Studios saw the network as a cash cow: both studios would supply low-cost scripted series to the network and cash in with lucrative international rights. Then, in 2011, Warners and CBS Studios added revenue from a $1 billion Netflix streaming deal as shows like (Julie) Plec’s The Vampire Diaries spinoffs The Originals and the unceremoniously canceled Legacies added a secondary revenue stream. It didn’t matter that The CW was never profitable because both studios — then part of Viacom and Time Warner, respectively — made money hand over fist via foreign sales and the Netflix output deal. The business model was so lucrative that The CW expanded to original programming on Fridays and Sundays and largely stopped canceling much of anything. The CW canceled (or gave a proper farewell) to an average of only 3.3 shows during the past decade — a far cry from this season’s 10. In the same time frame, The CW renewed an average of 10.3 shows annually (vs. eight this year), while new show volume (three) is a bit below the norm (3.9)." So why did shows like Dynasty stop being viable? "Blame streaming. And mergers. And The CW’s impending sale," says Goldberg. She adds that those factors have combined in a loss of billions of dollars in revenue, making Dynasty and its low-rated ilk no longer profitable. ALSO: Broadcasting had a great year, so why end the season with a "Red Wedding's" cancelation dump?

      # TOPICS: Dynasty (2017 series), The CW

    • Gwen Stefani is returning to The Voice
      Source: E! Online

      Stefani, who last starred on the NBC reality competition in fall 2020, will return this fall to coach alongside husband Blake Shelton.

      # TOPICS: Gwen Stefani

    • Fox cancels rookie dramas Our Kind of People and Pivoting
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      Lee Daniels and Karin Gist's Our Kind of People, which aired its final episode in January, was one of Fox's first series given a straight-to-series order, skipping the pilot process. Pivoting had a decent debut after an NFL game in January, but averaged 1.85 million viewers over its 10-episode run.

      # TOPICS: Our Kind of People, Pivoting

    • Fox is expected to renew Call Me Kat and Welcome to Flatch, but its more popular unrenewed shows are "down to the wire"
      Source: Deadline

      Following the cancelations of Our Kind of People and Pivoting, "no announcement has been made yet on Fox’s two other bubble shows, comedies Call Me Kat and Welcome to Flatch," reports Nellie Andreeva. "I hear both are being renewed, the latter after strong Season 2 pitch, including cast additions plan, as well as some creative dealmaking from Lionsgate TV." According to Variety, freshman comedy Welcome to Flatch tied for the lowest-rated scripted show of the 2021-2022 season. Andreeva adds: "Surprisingly, Fox also has not announced yet formal renewals for some of its strongest series, dramas 9-1-1, 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Resident. I hear all three are still in pickup negotiations with 20th Television, along with the studio’s contingent of animated Fox veterans, The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers."

      # TOPICS: Call Me Kat, Welcome to Flatch

    • Fired CNN+ staffers were "mistakenly" mailed "welcome" swag from the failed CNN streaming service
      Source: Mediaite

      The Wall Street Journal reports fired staffers were “mistakenly” mailed items such as ink pens, headphones, popcorn makers and other items for food and drinks bearing the CNN+ logo. Some of the swag contained a "welcome" message, telling the ex-staffers: "This is an incredible time to be part of CNN."

      # TOPICS: CNN+

    • Alton Brown on leaving Food Network for Netflix's Iron Chef reboot: "I had to follow that franchise"
      Source: Entertainment Weekly

      What many of Brown's fans may not realize is that him joining Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend is also him leaving Food Network, which he has called home for the past two decades. "You know what? I don't think goodbye," he tells EW. "Goodbye is really final. Perhaps au revoir or adieu for now. I don't really think of myself as having left a place as much as I simply crossed the street to join one of my first loves. I had 20 pretty spectacular years at Food Network. I built a brand there. I became part of Iron Chef America there. But to be honest, if Netflix had taken a shot at Iron Chef without me, that would have broken my heart. (Laughs) So I had to follow that franchise, which has been such a big part of my life and a really big part of my career. And as it evolves into something new and spectacular, I just had to be a part of it." Brown adds: "I simply knew that if Netflix was going to have a go at rebooting Iron Chef — and they have in a magnificent way — if I was going to be invited to the party, I was going to the party, and there was nothing that would have kept me from doing that. It is such an incredibly vital franchise to me. I've learned through many, many years of doing hundreds of episodes of that show, to have a chance of being part of this new reimagining which is amazingly brilliant, it's just not something that I could not do. So no, it was a very easy decision."

      # TOPICS: Alton Brown

    • Winning Time tells a compelling story, but it's hindered by the reality of the Lakers actually "winning"
      Source: Vulture

      "Winning Time mostly works because it’s willing to push back on the notion of a shared 'official' history, break from the usual hymns of nostalgic sports lore, and dig into the messy subjectivity that gets smoothed over in the construction of a legacy," says Nicholas Quah. "Which is why the season finale ultimately felt so inert. As we barrel through the finals and zero in on the Lakers’ eventual triumph, the show becomes increasingly conventional, doubling back way too hard toward the underdog-sports-flick component of its DNA. The interesting work the show had been doing with its characters is pushed to the side in order to give this fictional iteration of the Showtime Lakers the glory that syncs them up with the image held by their real-world counterparts. Winning forgives everything, as they say, but watching a preordained win is unforgiving in its insipidity. This may well prove to be a fundamental storytelling problem for the show as it continues: Because the Showtime Lakers won so much, as a fictionalized story 'based on true events,' it seems like Winning Time can only lose."

      # TOPICS: Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

    • Jerrod Carmichael tells Ellen DeGeneres he is "specifically thankful for you" in his first visit as an out gay man
      Source: The Hollywood Reporter

      Carmichael, who recently came out and who last visited The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2016, told DeGeneres, according to The Hollywood Reporter: “You faced coming out at a time when, I mean, it just was impossible. There was no precedent. There was no Ellen DeGeneres to come out to show you what it’s like. I watched it with my mom. I watched all of it. I watched your sitcom. I watched you talk to Oprah. I watched the interpretive dance in the special. My mom watched you and she laughed at you and you were welcome in the home. It’s no small thing. I don’t want to discount that, because it’s really huge. Being Southern and Christian and these things — the idea of having a gay person welcome in my mother’s home — it seemed impossible. And you did it.” DeGeneres responded by calling Carmichael "my hero" and revealing she texted him soon after watching his recent Rothaniel special.

      # TOPICS: Jerrod Carmichael, Ellen DeGeneres

    • The Kardashians appears to be creating a completely different timeline to gloss over the Astroworld tragedy
      Source: BuzzFeed News

      While Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner, who is Travis Scott's girlfriend, were watching him perform at Astroworld last fall, the rest of the Karadashian family were celebrating Kris Jenner's birthday on the same night. "But, of course, Kendall and Kylie were notably absent that evening, and viewers were horrified by the way that the show handled the reason why," says Stephanie Soteriou. "Not only was the festival completely ignored, a storyline involving Kendall was seemingly faked to avoid mentioning Astroworld." ALSO: Why The Kardashians is a better show than Keeping Up with the Kardashians ever was.
       

      # TOPICS: The Kardashians

    • This week's Law & Order episode demonstrated the awfulness of the reboot
      Source: Pajiba

      "As much as we may have been looking forward to the return of Law & Order after a 10-year hiatus, this season of the long-running series has been a failure," says Dustin Rowles. "The series has forgotten what we loved about it — the staid predictability, the novel legal theories, the detached characters — and instead leaned too hard into the 'ripped from the headlines' aspect. That element of the series went off the deep end in this week’s episode, which somehow managed to combine Anna Delvey and the goddamn Sackler family into one episode. How, you might ask? By arresting a murderer in the first half and then trying a completely separate murder case in the latter half."

      # TOPICS: Law & Order

    • RuPaul has turned RuPaul's Drag Race into a commodity
      Source: The Daily Beast

      "RuPaul has made it clear time and time again that he’ll do just about anything for a check. It’s why there are no less than 17,000 Drag Race spinoff franchises airing at any one time in RuPaul’s Multiverse of Mama’dness," says Coleman Spilde. "It’s why he’ll cut the worst Charli XCX knockoff you could ever imagine. It’s why he’ll lease his Wyoming ranch to become America’s Next Frack Superstar. Your name does not become synonymous with an art form in 2022 unless you’re willing to sign it on a dotted line without hesitation. But in his quest to build his global empire, RuPaul has continually allowed the legacy of his subversive landmark reality show to be slowly chipped away at. The commercialization of drag under RuPaul’s guide is a sticky thing. On one hand, it’s a critical part of bringing empowering inclusivity to the forefront of mainstream culture, where it can be accessible to all who may need it. On the other, it invites the ire of its own ever-growing toxic fanbase and contributes to multimillion-dollar companies revving the engines of their Pride parade floats for an exhausting show of rainbow capitalism every summer. Maybe that’s the nature of the beast: one can’t exist without the other."

      # TOPICS: RuPaul’s Drag Race

    • Gavin & Stacey turns 15: Why wasn't James Corden's British romantic comedy series able to find an American audience?
      Source: Vulture

      The comedy that James Corden co-created and co-starred in with Ruth Jones about an Essex boy (Matthew Horne) and a Welsh girl (Joanna Page) "whose long-distance relationship quickly turns into an engagement and then a marriage — blending their eccentric families in a culture clash equal parts charming and hilarious," says Tom Smyth. "As a testament to just how beloved this series still is, when the cast reunited for a 2019 Christmas special, it garnered 18.49 million viewers — half of all the people watching television in the U.K. at the time. Despite that incredible success in Britain, Gavin & Stacey has never found a strong American audience. That’s ironic considering that one of its creators and stars, James Corden, has found fame in the States completely separate from the show that made him a star back home. But that cultural gap in the series’ success isn’t for lack of trying. There were three failed attempts to adapt the show in America: first in 2008 by NBC, then in 2009 by ABC, and lastly a 2013 Fox attempt that made it the furthest. Titled Us & Them, the Fox remake starred Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel and shot seven episodes, none of which made it to air."

      # TOPICS: Gavin & Stacey

    • Netflix's Our Father uses horror tropes to effectively tell its horrific story
      Source: Mic

      "If we’re all currently leaning into the pile-on phase against Netflix, the true-crime doc remains perhaps the only untouchable bread and butter for the content giant," says Brandon Yu. "While profits are down, it’s still a boom-time for programs that take you down the rabbit hole of serial killers, scammers, scandals, and the like (and that probably won’t change, considering how cheap they likely are for Netflix and how reliably well they do). Most of these series and films are not exceptionally well-made, but the material tends to be juicy, if morally ambivalent, enough. Few, though, have covered the kind of unique horror that is at the center of the new Netflix doc Our Father."

      # TOPICS: Our Father

    • To a former believer, Under the Banner of Heaven is the most accurate TV portrayal of Mormon culture
      Source: GQ

      "Under the Banner of Heaven is in some ways a milestone for Mormon representation: though none of the main cast members are active or former Mormons, creator Dustin Lance Black was raised in the church and became an industry name as the only writer of Mormon experience in the writer’s room for Big Love, HBO’s notorious series about a polygamous family in Salt Lake City," says Nadine Smith. "Both Big Love and the original Jon Krakauer book about the real-life murder of a Mormon mother and her daughter on which Under the Banner of Heaven is based were highly controversial flashpoints for Mormons around the same point in the mid-2000s. While Under the Banner of Heaven attracted ire for unveiling violent incidents in Mormonism’s past, Big Love caught heat for its focus on polygamy and scenes recreating sacred temple ceremonies. Big Love often strove for cultural fidelity and verisimilitude, but it was ultimately about Mormonism in the same way The Sopranos was about the mafia: a rich setting and context for a larger thematic portrait of tragic masculinity. But the TV adaptation of Under the Banner of Heaven takes the faith of Black’s youth as its direct subject in a way Big Love never did."

      # TOPICS: Under the Banner of Heaven

    • Outer Range's weird approach to the American West seems more accurate than Yellowstone
      Source: Vulture

      Amazon's Josh Brolin-led sci-fi western seems, at first, like a knockoff of Taylor Sheridan’s brand of western mythmaking. But then it takes a turn for the weird. "The modern American West is deeply weird," says Nicholas Quah. "It’s a place where religious fundamentalists buy up whole towns, billionaires colonize to cosplay as cowboys, and the vast expanse of land can hide all sorts of strange and worrisome things. That weirdness is alive in Outer Range, and in that sense, the show feels as true, if not truer, to the modern American West than anything on Paramount Network right now."

      # TOPICS: Outer Range

    • Netflix shows have devolved from high quality to an assembly line of television
      Source: Jacobin

      With its viewers binging network shows like Friends, The Office and Grey's Anatomy, Netflix executives became obsessed with having bingeable full seasons, says Jake Ures. In 2022, as he points out, Netflix will release over 120 seasons of television. "Initially Netflix’s model for original content was a slate of decent marquee shows like Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, and David Fincher’s House of Cards," says Ures. "Known for his visual exactitude, Fincher’s show starred an A-list cast and was able to tell a slower-paced story. This was the promise of the streamer-studio exemplified: Netflix would offer auteurs freedom and money to tell stories no other network would allow. First-look deals with filmmakers and showrunners with fan bases seemed like a mutually beneficial arrangement, especially when it seemed like independent filmmaking and mid-tier budget films were getting harder to come by. The problem is that this tenuous arrangement was dependent on a model that HBO had fine-tuned and that Netflix chose to reject. HBO’s model of weekly Sunday night premium programming had allowed it to focus on fewer shows with much stricter quality assurance. HBO shows thus stayed on the air longer and stayed relevant for longer, which allowed the network to keep quality high and be more discerning with which shows it green-lit. But Netflix needed full seasons, it needed a lot of them, and it needed them now. To make content at the desired speed and volume, the company took advantage of its status as 'new media,' which meant that its union contracts could be negotiated with much lower rates and less costly penalties for making crews work substandard hours. The streamer-studio was supposed to be an incubator for creator creativity. Instead, it increasingly resembled a sweatshop."

      # TOPICS: Netflix

    • Ghosts' costume designer explains the challenge of dressing up characters wearing outfits from different periods
      Source: Indiewire

      “I had to ask myself, ‘How do you create characters that are going to stand up over time?’” costume designer Heather Pain tells Indiewire. “You have to tell the story, but you’re also thinking ahead in terms of the different scenarios the writers might come up with later. What if the characters go outside? How can we replicate the costumes if they have stunts?”

      # TOPICS: Ghosts

    • The Girl from Plainville found a way to depict communication via text messages that challenges our reality
      Source: Collider

      "Plenty of shows and movies have been faced with this dilemma: how do you convey the same caliber of emotional scenes when they’re happening in written words – sometimes even shorthand?" says Lauren Waters. "So much power and detail is lost this way. Yet, removing important dialogue that happens in text message conversations makes it impossible to tell so many important stories. The Girl From Plainville is a perfect example of this. The series’ main characters, Coco and Michelle, communicate almost entirely via text message. This means that this is how many of the important moments, conflict, and relationship-building between the two characters happens. From texts scrawled across the screen to closeups of characters' phones or message bubbles popping up in the middle of scenes to voiceovers, viewers have seen many attempts at conveying text conversations in an engaging way to television audiences. The Girl From Plainville had its work cut out for it in this way, but in the end, the decision was both risky and smart. Rather than trying to convey layers of emotion through the text messages, the text messages were brought to life."

      # TOPICS: The Girl From Plainville

    • Peter Bart: Paramount is doing a disservice to The Godfather's legacy with The Offer
      Source: Deadline

      The former Paramount Studios executive, who has voiced his displeasure with the Paramount+ series before, explains in a Deadline conversation: "I’m not mad about anything, but am greatly concerned about the legacy of The Godfather. Those who admire the movie, including film students and cinema scholars, deserve accurate insight into the problems surrounding its creation. Paramount has done a disservice in supporting a project like The Offer that distorts the roles of its principals and suggests that its producing team was essentially under the control of the mob during key sections of the shooting schedule. First, a note about the filmmaking team: The Offer portrays a sort of 'buddy' relationship between the principals. In reality, Al Ruddy and Francis Coppola were not on speaking terms during most of the shooting schedule and Bob Evans looked upon Ruddy with both distrust and disdain. In The Offer, the three hug each other at the end of the shoot and vow to join forces on its sequel. In reality, the contracts for The Godfather Part II specified that Ruddy would have no connection with the project, and that Coppola would not be required to communicate with Evans on any issue. The sequel would be Coppola’s show this time, with no arguments about casting or editing."

      # TOPICS: The Offer

    • Amazon's The Kids in the Hall revival manages to surprise amid the wash of familiar allusions
      Source: Vulture

      "The idea of a revived Kids in the Hall series, like so many other revivals of the past decade, comes packaged with intense trepidation," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "What if that nervy, surreal absurdism is blunted by nostalgic fondness? Is it possible to look back in celebration, without undercutting the past or, worse, being smugly self-congratulatory? Let’s also be honest: Who can truly feel confident that their male comedic heroes of the past are not at any moment about to reveal themselves to be anti-cancel-culture prophets, railing against political correctness and censorship?" VanArendonk adds: "After the treacherously high expectations of reviving a beloved comedy series plus a swooning documentary, the cumulative experience of the new Kids in the Hall feels nearly miraculous. It’s wonderful to have so many things to dread, and to instead be greeted with strange, goofy, self-referential, yet self-deprecating sketches. The Kids, now around 60 years old, are still obsessed with absurdity and the inevitability of endings. If anything, they’re even sillier and darker than before."
      ALSO:

      • The Kids in the Hall revival is an adventure in aging -- with the same old bite: "Not all reunions are made the same," says Robert Lloyd. "Often, it’s for a payday, and even when the impulse isn’t merely financial, performers, bands or comedy teams — they are the same in so many ways — might remain content to recycle the old hits rather than knuckle down to do new creative work. Sometimes it’s a matter of personal history and creative connection and knowing how it all works — or, like muscle memory, not having to know how it works — and because there is a special joy in getting the band together. Well-written, expertly performed, unashamedly odd and full of beans, this would seem to be the latter sort of enterprise. An adventure, if you will."
      • A revival works for The Kids in the Hall because their comedy has so often attuned to life’s darker, sadder absurdities: "This comes through especially clear as multiple new Kids sketch premises ruminate on changing times and finality," says Jesse Hassenger. "In another revival of older characters, longtime coworkers Kath (McCulloch) and Cath (Thompson) preside over their company’s final fax-machine transmission. Thompson’s adored monologuist Buddy Love turns up to commune with the world’s last glory hole. There are also some surprisingly topical points, like a Zoom call taking hilariously explicit inspiration from disgraced pundit Jeffrey Toobin. More often, though, the Kids are happy to poke fun at their new demographic, as when McDonald plays an older lady who wants to photograph her trendy restaurant food for 'social media.'"
      • The Kids prove they are still fearless: "Not all of the sketches work—there’s no show where they all work—but the batting average is still so much higher than most programs that the Kids inspired into existence," says Brian Tallerico. "They’re back to show the generations that followed them how it’s done."
      • The Kids in the Hall wasn't just one of the best ’90s comedy groups, but one of the most enlightened -- especially about feminism: "As a millennial misfit, I was drawn to the Kids’ offbeat sense of humor, but what <i>really hooked me was the troupe’s feminist sensibilities," says Tabitha Vidaurri. "It was these five Canadian men in drag who opened my adolescent eyes to concepts like sexism, toxic masculinity, and gender inequality. I have many feminist heroes who are women, but as a teenager surrounded by Girls Gone Wild and The Man Show’s girls on trampolines, I actually learned about objectifying women from Bruce McCulloch’s character, Tammy the teen pop star. When an older male record executive attempts to seduce her with a bouquet of flowers, Tammy sings, “I’m not gonna spread for no roses … Laura Secord never did. Gloria Steinem did once, and then she felt sad.” No one else on TV seemed to be talking about Gloria Steinem, much less making a joke about fetishizing young girls."
      • The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks documentary provides enough showbiz insight and interpersonal drama to entertain newbies
      • Dave Foley, whose been working on the revival since 2018, explains what has changed: "We complain more about young people than we used to. But other than that, it’s pretty much the same," he says. "Yeah, it’s very creepy, really, how little any of us have matured or progressed. Yeah, as artists or as human beings. So it felt very much like the old days of just getting together and throwing ideas at each other and, you know, occasionally fighting about what’s the best way to do things. And just being in tears laughing a lot of the time. Because, yeah, that’s one of the nice things about working with the Kids is we spent all those years together."

      # TOPICS: The Kids in the Hall

    • HBO's The Time Traveler’s Wife is a "multiverse of badness"
      Source: TIME

      "One day at work, a 28-year-old librarian meets the 20-year-old woman who will become his wife," says Judy Berman. "The thing is, she already knows him—knows that they will fall in love, marry, spend many happy years together—because he is a time traveler. Ever since she was a little girl, an older version of the man has been periodically journeying back through the decades to spend time with her. So she already adores him. And now, he’s younger and more attractive than she’s ever known him to be. Unfortunately, because he’s just now meeting her, he has yet to experience the true love that eased his various youthful traumas and is still a total mess of a human being. This is the premise of HBO’s latest epic drama, The Time Traveler’s Wife. If you find it extremely confusing as described above, that’s because it is indeed extremely confusing. If, however, the summary makes even a lick of sense to you, chances are you’ve already encountered the story of Clare and her time-traveling soulmate Henry, in the form of the megahit 2003 novel by Audrey Niffenegger or the major motion picture starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, from 2009. The plot has always been absurd. But after nearly two decades and one widely seen, remarkably bad adaptation, it has also aged poorly and grown redundant. It would, at this point, take a truly inspired interpretation to make a Time Traveler’s Wife series work. Sadly, this ain’t it."
      ALSO:

      • The weaknesses of HBO’s The Time Traveler’s Wife are the weaknesses that have dogged Steven Moffat throughout his career: "Tonal inconsistencies that sometimes render glib what should be harrowing; a complicated story structure that occasionally obscures character, rather than reveal it; and, especially, the inescapable sense that the lines coming from its characters’ mouths are the result, not of human emotion, but of an insufficiently invisible screenwriter attempting to simulate it," says William Hughes. "Where the show succeeds—which it does, slightly more often than not, and with more confidence as its six-episode run proceeds—is in drilling in to all the stranger emotional consequences of Niffenegger’s 2003 novel. It is, for example, to the credit of both Moffat and stars Rose Leslie and Theo James that the series manages to successfully sell its central love triangle, eventually revealed to be between Leslie, James, and…well, James again."
      • The Time Traveler's Wife can’t completely escape the book’s maudlin pull, but it offers both a more lighthearted and a tougher take than the film: "It capitalizes on the possibilities for slapstick offered by Henry’s constant buck-naked, <i>Terminator-style tumbles into unexpected times and places," says Mike Hale. "And it restores the testiness and jealousy (and copious sex) between Clare and Henry that was muffled in the movie’s gauzy telling. Moffat’s involvement was the reason to have some hope for, or at least be curious about, this new adaptation. The love of puzzles and sleight of hand and general narrative complexity that he has demonstrated, often with considerable ingenuity, in Doctor Who and Sherlock seemed to make him a good match for the nerdy science-fiction side of Niffenegger’s book. And the best moments in Moffat’s series are ones that get into the details of how time travel works, or that show the tricks Henry uses to communicate with himself or manipulate events across time."
      • The Time Traveler's Wife is unwatchable: "From the jump, Theo James (Sanditon) and Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) are odd choices for Henry and Clare," says Linda Maleh. "They both inject their characters with a rough, aggressive quality, subverting what should feel like a sweet love story. This is in contrast to the ill-received 2009 film, which, however you feel about it, nailed the casting with Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, who fully embody the characters’ demure and bookish personas. Whereas James and Leslie spend most of their screen-time screaming at each other. The couple who love poetry, opera, punk music, and can talk for hours while playing chess are gone. In their place are two people who have nothing in common, and have no reason to be together other than fate (aka time travel) pushing them together."
      • This is a series that struggles at times to find a new way into its story: "One might think that a story hinging on time travel would be open and wildly free-ranging, but The Time Traveler’s Wife has, in all its incarnations, had a sourness to it," says Daniel D'Addario. "This show depicts someone who is not merely able to move through the eras of his life, but is compelled to do so against his will."
      • The Time Traveler's Wife is funny: "One thing that makes this show work is that there are parts I openly laughed out loud at," says Rachel Leishman. "It’s not funny in the sense that this is a comedy; it’s still a story about a man who is forced to live his life out of order and the woman who wants to be there for him, but it is also just the characters using their humor as a way to deflect from their own pain, and in that comes the reason this show is relatable despite, you know, no one actually knowing what it feels like to just suddenly time travel."
      • Steven Moffat addresses grooming concerns since adult Henry repeatedly visits Clare when she is a child: “That’s not what the story is in the book or the film or the TV show. He’s married to her,” says Moffat. “He meets her as an adult, he falls in love with her, he gets married to her and then he’s flung back in time, through no fault of his own, and is confronted with the childhood version of the woman he already loves. Even more so in the TV show version, he absolutely makes it clear that he’s just a friend.” Additionally, the Henry who visits young Clare is “a responsible man, so he has tremendously strict rules about this,” like that he will never reveal who he is to her in the future.

      # TOPICS: The Time Traveler's Wife

    • Apple TV+'s The Essex Serpent is a tense and heartfelt exploration of grief and belief and how much those two things can mess with you
      Source: The Verge

      "How much you enjoy The Essex Serpent, an Apple TV Plus adaptation of Sarah Perry’s 2016 novel, might depend on how much you enjoy seeing Tom Hiddleston brooding in a misty field while wearing cozy wool sweaters," says Andrew Webster of the limited series starring Hiddleston and Claire Danes. "For a lot of people, that will probably be enough of a hook. (It was for me.) But thankfully, the six-episode series offers a lot more than great hair blowing in the wind — it’s a tense and heartfelt exploration of grief and belief and how much those two things can mess with you. The great sweaters are just a bonus." Webster adds: "Much of the show hinges on watching the three of them navigate this awkward dynamic while being too British and polite to just come out and say how they feel. This is balanced with all of the aforementioned struggles like finding a mythical sea serpent or perfecting a radical kind of surgery. It’s a slow burn of a show, which doesn’t reveal its true intentions until a few episodes in. But once it finds its footing, The Essex Serpent becomes a drama that treats its subjects with a refreshing kind of honesty that makes them all the more interesting. Falling in and out of love is always messy, but especially when the world around you is also a complete mess. The Essex Serpent captures that perfectly. And at six episodes long, it does so without overstaying its welcome."
      ALSO:

      • Claire Danes is brilliant, Tom Hiddleston isn't: "Perhaps this is down to a lack of chemistry between the leads, or perhaps the miscasting of Hiddleston, who never manages to shed his innate air of suave confidence," says Lucy Mangan. "It works well when playing a god of mischief amidst a plethora of equally towering egos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; less so when playing a Victorian vicar humble enough to admit doubts and wrestle with his conscience. Let alone fall in love with a woman cleverer than him, and spend time offering explanations that he is too honest to dismiss out of hand, however much they pain him. It gives his exchanges with Cora a condescending edge that is the death knell to the love and profound yearning that animated their relationship in the novel. Danes, on the other hand, is magnificent as Cora – brusque, athletic, undisguisably intelligent and every inch a woman gradually being restored to life and self in the wake of her husband’s brutality."
      • There is something missing at the heart of The Essex Serpent – that 1% of magic that every good TV show demands: "It’s hard to put your finger exactly on what’s wrong: one thing is that the central fear the village is experiencing, the ancient horror of the mythological Essex Serpent, is never really set up enough for you to get why everyone’s hysterical. Maybe it’s because Hiddleston and Danes’s theological squabbling, the dynamite that explodes the entire story, feels less like two intellectual titans locking horns and more like a nervous University Challenge team trying to diplomatically figure out what order they’ll sit in," says Joel Golby. "Maybe it’s too obsessed with being legacy TV to actually be good legacy TV: everyone’s always giving each other very poignant weird gifts, or gazing at one thing while crying about another, or heroically saving a life. And some of the dialogue – Claire Danes wakes up from a traumatic nightmare to be hugged instantly by a maid, who instantly says: 'It’s OK. Michael can’t hurt you any more' – I mean, come on. Subtlety exists, Apple! I am begging you to use it!"
      • The Essex Serpent feels a bit like PBS' Masterpiece: "We hesitate to praise the show with a Masterpiece Theatre tag, but there is a bit of tea-and-biscuit coziness in The Essex Serpent’s earnest patience and restraint," says David Cote. "(Even a spontaneous shag on the moors is handled discreetly). 'Love is not finite; it’s not confined to marriage; there are so many ways to love,' Cora tells Will, explaining how friendship and Eros can snake around each other like inlets and isles. For those needing a break from Bridgerton’s smoldering looks or The Great’s cynicism, try wading into this humanely gothic tale. The water’s cold but refreshing."
      • The Essex Serpent never quite takes off in the way it should: Although it is generally handsome, literate and quite well acted, The Essex Serpent suffers from the same problems of a lot of Prestige TV fare, says Mike Hale. "In common with a lot of contemporary prestige-TV productions, it seems to have worked so hard and so carefully to achieve the right surface patina that it forgot about being exciting — there are surprises in the plot, but you rarely feel the shock of real surprise, or of vision, in the filmmaking," says Hale. "It’s a tasteful and static enterprise that deserves attention because it comes to life whenever Danes is onscreen." 
      • The longer that The Essex Serpent goes, the more that it’s not only its characters that feel adrift, floating from one tenuous bit of connection to the other: "Despite all it evokes, The Essex Serpent tells a story where faith rarely manifests in ways other than preachers shouting about sin and love is rarely felt without being laid bare in plain terms," says Steve Greene. "Regardless of what it is that Cora is destined to find out in the water, it’s hard not to want a little more from this show than what’s floating on the surface."
      • Despite its flaws, The Essex Serpent succeeds as a gothic meditation on the magic and wonder of the natural world: "Dialogue that’s meant to be thought-provoking sometimes just drags," says Julia Glassman, adding that it suffers from clichés. "Those flaws aside, though, The Essex Serpent succeeds as a gothic meditation on the magic and wonder of the natural world, whether it’s seen through the lens of science or the supernatural. But it’s also a moving story about human connection," says Glassman. "'Love is not finite,' Cora muses at one point. 'It’s not confined to marriage. There are so many ways to love.' Cora, Will, and everyone else caught up in the serpent’s wake feel their way through all those different kinds of love, sometimes stumbling, sometimes finding each other in moments of tenderness and awe."
      • The Essex Serpent delivers for fans of period dramas: "Before entering into my first watch-through of Apple TV+'s upcoming series The Essex Serpent, my instincts were that its premise was perfectly suited to my personal interests," says Carly Lane. "Not only am I always somewhat drawn to the period drama as a general rule, but I couldn't help but be intrigued based on the names that were attached. Given that I'm not personally familiar with the book by Sarah Perry on which the series is based, I can only judge the final small-screen product, adapted by Anna Symon and directed by Clio Barnard, on its own merits — and fortunately, The Essex Serpent delivers in just about every facet. From performances by Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes that are infused with a delicious note of inward yearning that slowly displays itself on the outside to the fog-blanketed marshes of the Essex village in which the bulk of the story is set, the resulting product is an atmospheric, Gothic romance that doesn't retreat from indulging in its overall foreboding while it ultimately looks toward the possibility of an optimistic ending."
      • The Essex Serpent falls prey to more clichés in telling the story of Will and Cora’s blossoming, forbidden love: "Danes acquits herself well in the moments when Cora has to reckon with her overwhelming feelings, and there’s hardly anyone better in the tortured romance game than Hiddleston," says Caroline Framke. "But after briefly exploring so many other tantalizing avenues — the serpent’s grip on an increasingly fanatical town, Cora’s love of science bumping up against her subconscious instincts, Martha’s boldness belying her secret desires — that it becomes a disappointment to see this romance subsume all else."
      • Why Tom Hiddleston went from Loki to The Essex Serpent: The actor was looking for a change of pace after playing an agent of chaos. “I guess maybe that’s why I was really drawn to it,” he says. “I was drawn to him. He’s so finely drawn by Sarah Perry and Anna Symon. He seems to be kind of similar to a literary archetype – very grounded, very solid, very rational container for other people’s anxieties, someone that people lean on and depend on. But of course, he doesn’t have all the answers, and there are things he hasn’t folded into his theology and his worldview.”

      # TOPICS: The Essex Serpent

    • Netflix's The Lincoln Lawyer excels at feeling like old-fashioned network TV from the 1970s and 1980s
      Source: Chicago Sun-Times

      "The 10-part Netflix original series The Lincoln Lawyer is set in the present day and the title character is indeed an attorney, but it has the comfort-viewing vibe of the classic hourlong cop and private-eye dramas of the 1970s and 1980s, e.g., The Rockford Files, McCloud, Magnum, P.I. and Baretta,” says Richard Roeper. "It contains many of the familiar elements and characters from those shows, including a likable anti-hero, the traditional authority figures who are always throwing up obstacles, the rogue sidekick and a rotating gallery of colorful suspects. It’s Netflix, but it feels like old-fashioned network TV—and that’s probably no coincidence, given the showrunner is the prolific David E. Kelley, whose credits include Boston Public, Ally McBeal, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Big Sky and we’re just getting warmed up. Based on the second of Michael Connelly’s five Lincoln Lawyer novels (the first was made it into a 2011 feature film starring Matthew McConaughey), this is a slick, easily digested and well-acted legal thriller featuring an outstanding ensemble cast and a juicy, lurid murder mystery that keeps us guessing throughout—not that we can’t see some of the twists coming a mile down the road."
      ALSO: 

      • The Lincoln Lawyer feels incredibly dated: "Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer will scratch the itch for anyone unexplainably hankering for a tedious, low-stakes legal drama. Created by David E. Kelley, who plans to wring out his affinity for the genre to no end, it’s meant to be reminiscent of his early work like The Practice or Ally McBeal," says Saloni Gajjar. "Except in 2022, it just feels incredibly dated, like it should’ve aired on network TV in the aughts. The show’s diverse main lead aside, it offers nothing fresh or incisive. It’s not Boston Legal-level fun or entertaining, nor does it boast a seriously spectacular performance like Billy Bob Thornton in Goliath. To confirm: Those examples above are also Kelley-helmed legal dramas. And you can only beat that drum so many times before it comes crashing down with a thud."
      • The Lincoln Lawyer is a CBS series on Netflix: "The Lincoln Lawyer‘s roots as a CBS procedural are very much evident, particularly in the first half of the season," says Ron Hogan. "Haller bounces around from case to case while digging in where he can on the show’s central issue and his very important client. The focus on case-of-the-week fades as the show’s main plot starts to gel together, and by the end of the season, the series seems to have found a nice balance between season-long story arc case drama and the solid episodic lawyer shows that bought David Kelley a solid-gold typewriter. The show benefits greatly from the landscape of Los Angeles in those early episodes, and that dramatic landscape only heightens the tension in the latter half of the season. The Lincoln Lawyer isn’t going to break any new ground. It’s not going to be an edgy critical darling. It’s not trying to be. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to hold up a cart. The Lincoln Lawyer is an easy-to-watch binge-streamer with solid characters inhabiting an interesting world."
      • The Lincoln Lawyer combines the best of network and streaming: "It’s even guided by an old network TV pro: David E. Kelley, known for his work on legal shows like L.A. Law, Ally McBeal, and The Practice, among others," says Jesse Hassenger. None of this is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a lot of Netflix shows could use the discipline of old-fashioned network programming, and in that sense The Lincoln Lawyer combines the best of both worlds: a shorter season (a cable-and-streaming standard 10 episodes, rather than a network-friendly 13-to-20) with crisp, network-friendly runtimes (closer to 45 minutes than 60). But in its passable, uninspired watchability, the show hews closer to the middle of the pack, if that."
      • The Lincoln Lawyer is at least somewhat entertaining for a show with a bland central character: "It’s Netflix’s version of the sort of retro TNT drama that I only know exists because I left my television on after an NBA game; the kind of USA drama that USA stopped making when it bailed on scripted programming; a lesser incarnation of the type of algorithmic book-to-screen Amazon pipeline that brought us Reacher and Jack Ryan and Bosch — except that if The Lincoln Lawyer were on Amazon, it could have actually been the Bosch semi-spinoff," says Daniel Fienberg. "Then again, if The Lincoln Lawyer had aired on Amazon, everybody would have just compared it to creator David E. Kelley’s Goliath, a murkier, more nuanced series covering similar terrain." Fienberg adds: "If you don’t think too hard about any of it, there are some acceptable twists that push you through the second half of The Lincoln Lawyer, while the first half is dominated by a varied and photogenic use of Los Angeles locations. None of that is a substitute for a compelling title character or a consistently propulsive narrative, which happen to be key things Connelly’s fans will be hoping for."
      • The Lincoln Lawyer is the perfect average show that TV needs right now: "The meat-and-potatoes legal drama, long a stalwart of broadcast television with series like Law & Order, The Practice and How to Get Away with Murder, has come to Netflix with The Lincoln Lawyer.... a new adaptation of Michael Connelly's books created by David E. Kelley and Ted Humphrey. There's a comfort to the series, which exists in a universe with well-defined morals and beautiful people," says Kelly Lawler. "It's a slickly-acted, fast-moving, winning series that isn't overly ambitious and doesn't need to be. Its appeal comes from being something familiar done very well, and it's the kind of series Netflix should be making all the time."
      • Kelley-ready components make this iteration of The Lincoln Lawyer a bingeable, highly enthralling piece of entertainment: "Nearly every component of this legal drama—including its lovable characters, fascinating cases, gleeful fourth-wall breaks by Haller explains his strategy, whiz-bang pacing, and bright, clean cinematography—makes for easily digestible episodes, especially as Gorham and Campbell play larger roles," says Robert Daniels. "The two add dependable, workmanlike melodramatic beats to otherwise subdued characters, while the series cleverly maneuvers for an anti-police (Haller doesn’t trust them at all) bent, and openly talks about addiction and recovery. The show also has enough backstories—Lorna’s desire to return to law school, Angus’ debt to his former gang, and a case, from long ago, that continues to gnaw at Haller—to not only create a sturdy standalone season, but leave enough breadcrumbs for a possible second season."
      • The Lincoln Lawyer is warmed-over David E. Kelley: "Kelley’s belief in the inherent intrigue of the legal process helps him along; one can sense enthusiasm undergirding, say, an episode built around the jury-selection process," says Daniel D'Addario. "But others of the creator’s tricks fail him, like a tendency to lean hard on the quirkiness of bit players studded through the story, seemingly intended as a sort of comic relief that doesn’t consistently land. (Would you believe, for instance, that one of Mickey’s clients is a college student who can’t stop nude sunbathing and thinks Americans are uptight?) There’s a seeming attempt to graft on some of the zany zing of the Ally McBeal days here. And that show, as with other Kelley properties, had a dynamic lead; Garcia-Rulfo is an appealing performer, but he’s surprisingly low-key."
      • It's a modern-day Knight Rider: "Micky Haller is the Lincoln Lawyer. Why? Because he likes to work while being driven round in his Lincoln town car rather than at a desk," says Lucy Mangan. "How come? Because he hates the restrictions of an office and because characteristics are easier than character, that’s why. Did you mind when Bergerac did it? Were you ever this picky about Knight Rider? No? Well, you can get behind this car-led David E Kelley adaptation of Michael Connelly’s 2008 novel The Brass Verdict without any more questions then, can’t you?"
      • Manuel Garcia-Rulfo recalled struggling with the ethics of a defense attorney: “That was one of the things I was battling with,” he says. “I’d chat a lot with defense lawyers, and that was my model question, because I wanted to understand why you would defend somebody that you are pretty sure is guilty.”
      • Garcia-Rulfo wanted to ensure that Los Angeles' Latino life was represented: The Lincoln Lawyer role wasn't written for a specific ethnicity, so when the Mexican actor was happy "that they bet on a guy that has an accent portraying Mickey Haller." But was there cultural specificity in the scripts? "There were some, but I pushed for more," says Garcia-Rulfo. "There are some scenes where I’m eating, and sometimes the script would say, 'He’s eating at a famous hamburger place.' I said, 'Let’s have him eat some tacos instead.' Or if it said, 'He orders a bourbon,' I would say, 'No, let’s order a mezcal or a tequila.' With the language as well, I was like, 'I think he would say this line in Spanish, you know?' Everyone in the production was cool with letting me do that. They would say, 'As long as you’re not saying something bad in Spanish." (Laughs.)

      # TOPICS: The Lincoln Lawyer

    • Hulu's Conversations with Friends is miscast and meandering, failing to recapture the insight of Normal People
      Source: Variety

      Sally Rooney's "Conversations With Friends — her great first novel, about a college student whose relationship with a married man becomes all-consuming — bears similarities to her second (Normal People)," says Caroline Framke. "Nevertheless, it tells an entirely different kind of story that should require a more tailored approach from an adaptation. Without that, or the crackling chemistry that pulsed throughout Normal People, this show’s 12 episodes... meander hesitantly along until it finally just runs out of steam." Framke adds that, quickly, "the real problem presents itself and never truly goes away: (Alison) Oliver and (Joe) Alwyn simply don’t have the chemistry, sexual or otherwise, to pull off Frances and Nick’s supposedly overwhelming attraction to each other. While Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones made it all too easy to understand just how thick the tension was between their characters, Oliver and Alwyn can’t summon half the same intensity, which only makes Nick and Frances’ dynamic that much harder to believe."
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      • Conversations with Friends is a gripping tale of sex, love and betrayal: "I found myself completely drawn into the romance of Nick and Frances and when I wasn't sitting glued to my laptop screen watching their torrid affair unfold, I found myself thinking about them when I attempted to tear myself away from the screen," says Rachel Thompson. "I think that's the measure of a really great TV show or movie — thinking about the characters and their story when you're chopping vegetables in silence on a weeknight. These four friends got under my skin and I suspect they'll get under yours, too. You'll find yourself urgently needing to know what happens, how these relationships (plural!) turn out, whether people's feelings get hurt, whether they're all OK in the end."
      • Conversations with Friends is muted, frustrating and bloodless: "On the page, this setup has all the trappings of a sensational melodrama, but in practice, it plays out like a drippily sad, muted story," says Valerie Ettenhofer. "Rooney’s works are quite internal and on-screen, which translates mostly to characters reading texts or sharing wordless glances. At different points, we learn that both Frances and Nick have often been defined by those around them by their passivity. Both also worry that they don’t emote enough, while they feel plenty of big feelings on the inside. None of these traits, it probably goes without saying, make for particularly compelling television."
      • Conversations with Friends should've been a movie: "Despite the strong work by all in front of and behind the camera... the extreme focus on Frances feels better suited to a feature film version of this material, or at least to something substantially shorter than the six hours that Hulu is releasing at once," says Alan Sepinwall. "There are wonderful moments throughout, particularly in a finale that makes Frances reckon with the hurt she has caused everyone else. But those moments are sprinkled in among a lot of narrative flab. The same lingering quality that served Normal People so well here just makes everything seem slow and padded — perhaps because there is one central character rather than two, and her inner problems ultimately play as more straightforward than what Marianne and Connell were each wrestling with."
      • Conversations with Friends hews close to its source material, yet shifts it to suggest a different meaning: "Director Lenny Abrahamson and co-writer Alice Birch—the creative team behind 2020’s acclaimed Hulu adaptation of Rooney’s novel Normal People—have mounted a similarly exquisite production, all young people talking about their feelings in the subdued, blue of Irish sunlight washing through windows against a background of delicate room noise," says Laura Miller. "But Conversations with Friends is more of a condensed ensemble piece than the long chronicle of an on-again, off-again love affair at the center of Normal People. It revolves around Oliver’s consummate performance as Frances, a young woman who not only doesn’t know what she’s doing, but also has trouble figuring out what she wants and feels. The other characters in the series’ ménage à quatre are nearly as vivid."
      • Conversations with Friends challenges our perceptions of friendships, romantic relationships, sexuality, and how they all relate: "Conversations with Friends asks more questions than it answers, and it may very well rip out your heart and run it over with one of those mopeds you see on the streets of Dublin," says Ellen Johnson. "But despite the less-than-clean endings, Rooney’s stories offer more than just repressed horny Irish people who lack basic communication skills. She crafts brilliant observations on human relationships and personality, and while Hulu’s second stab at her work doesn’t always fully capture the melancholy nuance in Rooney’s written word (how could it?), it comes mighty close."
      • Conversations becomes remarkable through its details: "Unlike Marianne and Connell in Normal People—lovers too purposely crafted as yin and yang, in a contrivance that felt even more conspicuous when interpreted on screen—each of the four main characters comes across as a complete, internally consistent person whose relationship with every other character is unique," says Judy Berman. "Alienated from a body that goes haywire monthly, Frances sees herself as plain; in bed with Nick, a handsome celebrity who somehow finds her attractive enough to warrant cheating, she can let go of that hangup. Melissa represents one possible future Frances might work toward if she, 'a communist' according to Bobbi, decides she can stomach writing for money. For Melissa, the girls’ youth offers relevance and vitality. Nick romanticizes Frances’ innocence. Frances and Bobbi care so deeply about each other that they can’t stop hurting each other."
      • Newcomer Alison Oliver runs away with the show: "This falls right in line with one of Normal People’s finest accomplishments: introducing us to promising young actors to swoon and obsess over," says Fletcher Peters. "Frances would be easy to hate. She’s brooding, disconnected, can’t find her way in life, and has initiated an affair with a married man. On top of that, Frances treats her dear friend Bobbi like a dusty old ragdoll. But Oliver portrays Frances with such purpose. It’s a performance similar to Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People, another hushed, moody role that could lead audiences to recoil. With another actress, Frances could be considered selfish, boring, or dull. That’s not the case here. Oliver recently graduated from college, so she really translates Frances’ youthful confusion in a way that an older, more experienced actress wouldn’t be able to manage."
      • There's something about Conversations with Friends that's not quite as emotionally vivid as Normal People: "The challenge of serving all these relationships is a little too much for the script, and Frances' point of view, as portrayed on screen, isn't quite enough to illuminate all these other characters and make them feel fully realized," says Linda Holmes. "It's the less successful of these two related projects, but if you like your dramas understated, you won't be disappointed."
      • Conversations with Friends paints a sophisticated psychological portrait of when youthful ambitions and adult realities come to a head: “Conversations with Friends is as eager to embrace these kind of genre conventions as it is delighted to upend them," says Ben Travers. "For the most part, it pulls off both. The dense text still provides plenty of simple pleasures, be it the efficiency of 30-minute episodes or the notable inclusion of another music cue from The O.C. There’s a wry wit to much of the courtship, and the filmmakers maintain their uncanny ability to capture lots of texting in an artful, informative, and compelling manner. While the six hours can get bumpy in plotting (and frustrating when the story’s perceptiveness clashes with its lead’s innocence), Conversations with Friends paints a sophisticated psychological portrait of when youthful ambitions and adult realities come to a head. The ideas we strive for and the ideas we have of ourselves can’t always gel with what the world demands of us or how others interpret our actions. And when such disparities involve matters of the heart, well, sometimes the riddle requires more than one answer."
      • There's something hypnotic about Conversations with Friends: "Visually, the show is unexpectedly cozy, awash in gloomy greens and grays," says Nina Metz. "Often it’s raining outside. A summer retreat to Croatia offers a brief respite with blue skies, but the story’s thematic undertow remains anything but sunny; sneaking around may generate an erotic charge, but it also stirs up anxieties and jealousies."
      • Like the novel it’s based on, Conversations is initially intriguing but ultimately frustrating: "Conversations is dutifully faithful to Rooney’s prose, as Normal People was, but that means it suffers from the same flaws, too," says Dave Nemetz. "It’s still a notch or two above your average romantic drama and offers some smart emotional insight along the way, but in the end, it’s a fleeting dalliance that fades too quickly."
      • Conversations with Friends' pacing is a little too bucolic to handle what’s, at its core, hardly groundbreaking material: "We’ve seen the mechanics and rhythms of these kinds of stories before: the lying, the cheating, the narcissism involved in believing that their story will be different from all the other affairs throughout history. Furtive text conversations lay out the terms of their relationship; the two meet up, sleep together, worry what their friends/spouses might think; rinse, repeat. Where Normal People charts the devastating impact of first monogamous love, Conversations with Friends' juggles a power dynamic—wealthier, married man in a fling with a young college student—we’ve seen before, and not in a way that opens up many new layers."
      • Conversations with Friends is elegant and restrained, to a fault: "Conversations With Friends charts Frances’ halting journey toward bridging the disconnect between theory and practice, head and heart, with patience and a perceptive eye for detail," says Angie Han. "But it too often tilts toward the same sense of reserve that its heroine does, resulting in a series that’s elegant and sensitive, but perhaps too cool for its own good."
      • Executive producer and director Lenny Abrahamson praises today's TV audiences for being “much more progressive than distributors, filmmakers and producers think they are": “Had we done Normal People or Conversations With Friends as a long feature it would have had a tiny audience," he says. "It’s really hard to get those films to stay in cinemas and audiences tend to mainly go out to see bigger tentpoles now.”
      • Alison Oliver’s portrayal of Frances may feel surprising to some fans of the book: The 24-year-old Oliver, with scant acting credits, went into her audition as "such a massive fan" of Sally Rooney's work. “I think she’s such an incredible writer.," she says. As The New York Times' Desiree Ibekwe explains: "The Frances of the screen seems more sympathetic — less cold and arch than she appears on the page, and perhaps more insecure and quietly overwhelmed." As Meadhbh McHugh, an Irish playwright who adapted five episodes, put it: “I think her archness can be a type of defense mechanism, but onscreen we are not getting access to Frances’ interior thoughts as in the novel, and so you want to see the vulnerability from which she’s operating.” It's Oseman's vulnerability that led to her casting. As director Lenny Abrahamson says: “She made so much sense of the character,” and “not in the obvious way.”

      # TOPICS: Conversations with Friends